Drinking on the rise in United States, especially for women, minorities, older adults

High-risk drinking increases substantially among some groups in the US, study says

High-risk drinking increases substantially among some groups in the US, study says

These researchers are calling the drinking levels in the United States a "public health crisis", although they note that there's no definitive conclusion for why women saw a larger increase than men.

They found that drinking, in general, rose substantially over that time frame.

The study also suggested that women, racial/ethnic minorities, older adults and those with lower educational levels and family incomes showed the greatest levels of alcohol use disorders. Overall, 12-month alcohol use rose by 11.2%, high-risk drinking by 29.9% and DSM-IV alcohol use disorder by 49.4% for the total USA population.

These trends troubled researchers, who wrote "these findings portend increases in many chronic comorbidities in which alcohol use has a substantial role".

Overall, the study found that drinking rates increased by 11 percent overall for Americans, with 75 percent of Americans admitting to having an alcoholic beverage in the past year in 2013.

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The share of adults who reported any alcohol use, high-risk drinking or alcohol dependence or abuse significantly increased between surveys conducted in 2001-02 and follow-up surveys in 2012-13. Grant was citing the study's findings that show almost three in four adults now drink alcohol. Instead, it was the marked uptick in "high-risk drinking".

High-risk drinking, in this study, referred to women drinking four or more drinks in a day, or men drinking five or more drinks in a day, on a weekly basis.

Americans tend to consider excess drinking a character flaw rather than a medical problem. The numbers also revealed alcohol abuse and dependency.

Between the genders, women showed the larger increase in alcohol abuse, according to the report. Among the poor (earning less than $20,000) it rose by 65.9 percent.

But that's not what mostly concerned researchers. Deborah Hasin, the study's lead author and a professor at Columbia University, noted that while light drinking has been helpful for people's health overall, heavy drinking can often lead to some harms and impairment.

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Pervasive marketing by the alcohol industry and new products, such as flavored vodkas or hard lemonade and iced tea, also might be driving some of the increases among women and other demographics, Jernigan said.

There's no single explanation for the increase, but the study says economic stress and the aftermath of the great recession could be contributing factors.

Americans are drinking more than they used to - a lot more.

And growing disparities in income, education, employment and housing between whites and minorities may have led the latter to cope with alcohol, researchers suggested.

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